Kentucky Route Zero is a magical realist adventure game about a secret highway in the caves beneath Kentucky, and the mysterious folks who travel it. Developed by Cardboard Computer (Jake Elliott and Tamas Kemenczy), the game features an original score by Ben Babbitt, along with a suite of old hymns and bluegrass standards recorded by...
User reviews: Very Positive (822 reviews)
Release Date: Feb 22, 2013

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Buy Kentucky Route Zero - Season Pass

All Five Episodes of Ketucky Route Zero will be automatically available upon their release

 

Recommended By Curators

"A powerfully evocative and beautiful subversion of point-and-click rote, but occasionally opaque and disorienting."
Read the full review here.

Reviews

"Smart, thoughtful, sweet and incredibly well crafted – it’s the perfect game to play in the small hours of a lonely night. Be warned though; it’ll leave you hungry for unknown roads and longing for an invitation to the blues."
Rock, Paper, Shotgun

"Evokes the feeling of old ghost stories told around a campfire. There's the familiarity of friends and family around a warm, man-made fire, but with it comes the unnerving tale of the strange and unusual. Kentucky Route Zero is beautifully bizarre and perfectly poignant, and most of all, deserves your attention."

9.5 - Destructoid

"However you respond to its ethereal imagery, this is a game which makes a rare suggestion: who a player is may be more important than what they do."

84/100 - PC Gamer

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About This Game

Kentucky Route Zero is a magical realist adventure game about a secret highway in the caves beneath Kentucky, and the mysterious folks who travel it.

Developed by Cardboard Computer (Jake Elliott and Tamas Kemenczy), the game features an original score by Ben Babbitt, along with a suite of old hymns and bluegrass standards recorded by The Bedquilt Ramblers.

The game is split into five acts. Acts I, II and III are available now. The remaining two acts will be released as they're completed. Taken as a whole, Kentucky Route Zero is roughly the length of a summer night.

Key Features

  • A focus on characterization, atmosphere and storytelling rather than clever puzzles or challenges of skill.
  • A unique art treatment inspired by theatrical set design.
  • A haunting score accompanies the ambient sounds of the bluegrass state.
  • Wander the highways of Kentucky.
  • Make some friends before morning.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS:Windows 7
    • Processor:1 GHz
    • Memory:512 MB RAM
    • Graphics:Directx 9.0c compatible video card
    • DirectX®:9.0c
    • Hard Drive:250 MB HD space
    • Sound:Sound card
    Recommended:
    • OS:Windows 7
    • Processor:1 GHz
    • Memory:1 GB RAM
    • Graphics:Directx 9.0c compatible video card
    • DirectX®:9.0c
    • Hard Drive:250 MB HD space
    • Sound:Sound card
    Minimum:
    • OS:OSX 10.5 Leopard
    • Processor:1 GHz CPU
    • Memory:512 MB RAM
    • Graphics:OpenGL 3.0+ compatible video card
    • Hard Drive:250 MB HD space
    • Sound:Sound card
    Minimum:
    • Processor:1 GHz CPU
    • Memory:512 MB RAM
    • Graphics:OpenGL 3.0+ compatible video card
    • Hard Drive:250 MB HD space
    • Sound:Sound card
Helpful customer reviews
17 of 18 people (94%) found this review helpful
12.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 1
There are roads in Kentucky that take you unknown, weird places if you allow yourself to go there. This game is a shortcut to those places wherein you don't need your imagination irl...instead the devs have done all the work for you. Enjoy the surreal, enjoy not having to work for strange magic, enjoy Ky. Rte. 0 ;-)


Btw, if you are ever in the area of Mammoth Cave, do try to visit Pig, Ky - there's an amazing BBQ joint with the most perfect fried catfish and hush puppies...I was literally dragged back to my grandmother's house in a weird space/time continuum...so when I speak of this game, I know whereof I speak ;-p
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10 of 11 people (91%) found this review helpful
4.1 hrs on record
Posted: November 3
"When I had journeyed half our life's way,
I found myself within a shadowed forest,
For I had lost the path that does not stray,
Ah, it is hard to speak of what it was,
The savage forest, dense and difficult,
which even in recall renews my fear:
so bitter—death is hardly more severe!
But to retell the good discovered there,
I'll also tell the other things I saw"

—The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

I was talking with a few of my poet and literary friends and they were urging me to try this new game.
Here's how our conversation went.

Virgil: Have you guys heard of the Kentucky Route Zero game, I just tried it and it's great.

Me: But it's $24.99, c'mon really?

Dante: You know the punishment I assigned to the greedy and avaricious.

Me: I know I know... but still I don't want to play a game where I watch pixels move on a screen

Homer: Stop ridiculing this masterpiece. You insult The Muses and mighty Zeus.

Me: Alright Alright... but if there's no action in the first five minutes I'm going back to my multiplayer shoot em' up

Proust: Don't worry, you won't be bored. After finishing it you're definitely going to want to tweet the authors and discuss the work.

Me: Whatever Marcel... why should I want to play a game about rednecks who drink whiskey

Proust: Every gamer, as he games, is actually the gamer of himself. The developer's work is only a kind of optical instrument he provides the gamer so he can discern what he might never have seen in himself without this game. The gamer's recognition in himself of what the game says is the proof of the game's truth.

Me: Okay I'll try it.

(ten minutes later)

Me: This is good

(twenty minutes later)

Me: Unreal unreal maybe my friends know something about the art of telling good stories

(An hour later)

Me: (speechless)


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8 of 8 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.0 hrs on record
Posted: November 16
Review currently in progress, to be updated as more episodes are released.

There's something just slightly off about Kentucky Route Zero.

Not the sort of "off" that turns you away and makes you consider whether it ought to be locked up with its unnerving peers, but the kind that leaves you puzzled and transfixed upon the play of sorts being performed before you. The unusual atmosphere and odd interactions with characters is at once unsettling and hypnotic, its logic clashing with reality yet somehow seeming entirely natural in this bizarre segment of road you've found yourself lost on.

The plot trickles out through nebulous exchanges with persons that may or may not even exist, giving you answers as they simultaneously create an abundance of new questions you haven't time to ask. This ambiguity could very easily be the downfall of the game, but there's a self awareness to the narrative's construction that holds it together as it continues to distort its world into a mysterious cloud of disconnected yet overlapping plot lines.

I'm being intentionally unclear with my descriptions because Kentucky Route Zero relies so heavily upon the player's unknowing of what exactly it is. Were I to have come in already versed on its events, I have little doubt that the magic that kept me engrossed as I tried to fit the misshapen pieces together would have been lost, and what I would have been left with would be an artistically inspired but far less stimulating experience.

After only playing the first act of five, I haven't a great deal more to say about Kentucky Route Zero besides how immensely it made me want to explore more about it and learn its secrets which it has only just touched upon. It's hard for me to pinpoint exactly what makes it so interesting to me, but more than anything it is likely the endless possibility of what could be in store after what was essentially a prologue of sorts.

Perhaps I'll have better answers when I've been through the remaining acts, but regardless of what they contain, Kentucky Route Zero has already established itself as wholly compelling. It feels like the road I'm heading down could take me anywhere, and I want to see everything along it.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 14
If you're jaded of the same old killing and fetch questing of AAA games and looking for something different, then this game is for you. Great artistic direction and compelling story. Just sit in a dark room with headphones and let this game take you on one heck of a journey.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
3.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 1
A mesmerising, Byron-esque excursion down dim Kentucky roads.

My game of the year. It should be yours too.
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5 of 8 people (63%) found this review helpful
2.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 14
First of all I love the artstyle of this game. I was really excited to play it and really wanted to like it. The Story got me really intrested at first but there were a lot of parts that felt really boring to me. I have played all 3 currently available acts because, like I said, I really wanted to like the game. So at the end of act 3 I started to give up and just forced myself to play through it. The Story just didn't get to me.

I will play the other acts because I want to give the game another chance, but for now I cannot recommend this game.

I suggest watching some videos before purchasing, you don't really need to worry about spoilers. If you can get into the story I'm sure you can enjoy it and it also has amazing artstyle and locations.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
9.3 hrs on record
Posted: October 26
First video game to execute post-modern themes successfuly. Interested to see how the remaining episodes turn out
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 22
Was a really odd/confusing story that didn't do much for me... As I already have the game, I felt compelled to play it through to the end which was extremely difficult considering I wanted to stop playing after about 10 minutes.This game wasn't for me and I would recommend reviewing the game a little bit before purchasing as it is very odd.
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1 of 3 people (33%) found this review helpful
4.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 2
Let me preface this by typing out why I really thought this would be a game that I enjoy and would be able to recommend:

I played and loved pretty much all of the classic point & click adventures in their golden era. From the Sierra adventures to Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, all the Lucasarts games really, Simon the Sorcerer, Baphomets Curse, you name it.

In more recent times I really enjoyed the Telltale games and also the more philosophical approach of The Stanley Parable for example.

If you are in a similar position and thinking about getting this, it is actually not enough to tell if you will like this game or not. I cannot recommend this to you with a straight face.

First off, the graphical fidelity is really limited, as you might have seen already, but I wouldn't really count that as a negative point. The art style is very distinct and on point, and amplifys the creepy and uneasy mood throughout the whole game. They also manage to get some stunning panoramas and effects out of this minimalistic style, it definitely works for this title.

As for the gameplay, there really is not much to speak of. It mainly consists of walking, driving and dialogue. The conversations aren't voiced so get ready for reading. A lot. Also a lot of really basic small talk that has no connection to any part of the story whatsoever. There are also frequent, short (mostly optional) detours from the main path that happen entirely in text form, no visuals.
As far as I've seen there is no form of puzzles or decisions in the game that have any impact on how it unfolds. I disagreed with people that said this is the same in Telltales games. Although the end result is pretty much always the same, there is at least an illusion of choice and advancement, using a thing with another thing to make something happen. Getting the player busy. There is none of that in KRZ, if anything it is very close to a graphic novel where things play out for you, not through you. (This is also evident in the way it is broken up. Acts and Scenes.)
It does a few really neat things, like seamlessly switching the character you control without you actually realizing it.

Well then, the story. This is where I seriously got lost. I can't really tell all that much without spoilering anything, but I can tell you that it is basically all over the place. There is a goal or finish that you know about, but it gets replaced with another goal in the first few minutes of the game, and this new one never gets questioned, just accepted as necessary.
Come to think of it, everything in this game just gets accepted, nothing is questioned. As a result, nothing gets explained or "solved" either. It's like a very elaborate acid trip. A ride you hop in that trails you along, getting crazier and more confusing by the minute. And you really have no choice but letting it happen and not thinking too much about it, moving on.

You would think that the game would make fun of itself through it ridiculous developments, but it doesn't. Apart from literally one or two very brief instances (one "running gag" and a kid), the tone of this game is dead serious.

The soundtrack is used very sparingly, but to great effect, and it's phenomenal. If anything, I really recommend getting that.
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0 of 1 people (0%) found this review helpful
11.3 hrs on record
Posted: October 26
This game makes me want to go visit the Mammoth Cave area sometime just on the off chance some of these places will actually be there. Great story, gameplay, soundtrack, and plenty of obscure references to early adventure games thrown in.

Part 3 was worth the wait and I am sure Part 4 will be as well. Cardboard Computer has some freeware games on their site that are tied into the series while you're waiting.
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0 of 1 people (0%) found this review helpful
5.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 6
amazing atmosphere
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3 of 8 people (38%) found this review helpful
1.0 hrs on record
Posted: November 1
Cool graphical style and very mysterious mood, but the game left little for you to control and the story didn't keep my interest to finish it.
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0 of 2 people (0%) found this review helpful
10.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 5
This game has such a synchronous vibe about it on a seemingly deeper level. From adventurous tales with a girl named Shannon, to the philosophical hidden meanings, to the well placed eerily similar music. Have I been here before or have we been here existing together? I'm scared to play it any more on what I might learn about myself and what the future may hold.
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9 of 23 people (39%) found this review helpful
0.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 29
This probably is my biggest mistake ever in term of game purchases. I have no idea how something like this has such a high "pro critic" score. Or maybe I do.

Do yourself a favor and watch 30 minutes of gameplay of this on youtube before buying it.
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6.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 1
This has honestly been one of the most intrigueing forms of media I have ever experienced. It delievers something that no movie, music, or video game can show on its owm, but instead intwines them all together in a beautifully, haunting new world. For fans of point in click adventures, this is truely unique. For fans of people who view video games as a medium of art, this is made for you.
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3.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 1
i just kept tumbling. it was all i could do. god bless.
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4.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 20
WTF ?!?
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2.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 12
Very odd but really draws you in. Excellent art and interesting.
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4.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 9
Holy cats. Others have written eloquently about the virtues of Kentucky Route Zero, so I have little constructive to add. I'll just say that if you value beauty, and find your interactions with other human beings at once mystifying and fascinating, then this is the game for you.
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2.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 15
Genuinely enriching. Contemplative without ever feeling dull, surprising and striking without ever feeling forced.
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